Positional Release Technique

Positional Release Technique, also known as PRT, is a gentle, indirect technique of moving the body or body part away from the painful point or area of restriction and towards the position of greatest comfort or ease. The position of ease is where the point should no longer be tender. Position is held for 60-90 seconds. Often when the tissue is held in a position of ease, circulation improves (temporarily) in the surrounding tissues and muscle tone is decreased. It can positively affect change in soft tissues as well as joints. In this time, the patient can feel vibration, pulsation, heat, and pain will lessen or go away. There will be a sense of lengthening and relaxation in the tissues. The position of ease should decrease the pain by at least 70% once the release is felt.

Indications that will improve with Positional Release Technique:

  • Extreme pain and restricted muscles and joints (acute or chronic)
  • Degenerative spinal and joint conditions including arthritis
  • Post traumatic pain and dysfunction (whiplash, strain, sport injuries, etc.)
  • Post-surgical pain and dysfunction
  • Fragile tissue (advanced osteoporosis)
  • Repetitive strain conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Pediatric conditions- torticollis
  • Respiratory conditions that would benefit from normalizing breathing muscles, ribs and spinal restrictions
  • Neurological conditions- addressing dysfunction after stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis or other degenerative neural conditions

The therapist will treat the most painful, medial and proximal tender points first as well as the most central tender point if there are several. The therapist can treat up to 5 in any one massage or less if the patient is fragile, bedridden, fatigued, etc. Tender points are often found in tissues that were shortened when injured rather then the tissues that were stretched at that times and also in tissues that are chronically shortened. Positional Release Technique is effectively used in combination with other techniques such as fascial release, trigger point therapy, decreasing tone during a massage, etc.

Types of Positional Release Techniques used by massage therapists:

  1. Strain Counter Strain (SCS)- involves the therapist locating and monitoring a painful point or tender point while bringing the client into a position of ease
  2. Functional Technique- involves the therapist monitoring a reduction in palpated tone while bringing the client into a position of tissue ease
  3. Induration Technique- involves the therapist locating and monitoring a painful point or tender point while bringing the tissue into a position of ease
  4. Fascial Stacking Sequence- involves the therapist to move into a direction of maximum ease then from that point move into the next direction of greatest ease and from that combined position into the next direction of maximum ease and hold for at least 30 seconds or until a release is felt
  5. Blocking Technique- a position of ease is created by using towel blocks or props

After the treatment, the patient will feel joint stiffness, decreased pain, swelling, fascial tension and muscle spasm. There will be improved range of motion, flexibility, postural alignment, and mobility. As the patient’s body adjusts to changes, they may feel aches in their body for several days afterwards.